Dye leads Salem girls cross country

COVINGTON -- Every time Salem's Jamara Dye hit the course she seemed to get a little better which is why she was able to hold off the competition to become the Citizen's All-Area Girls Cross County Runner of the Year.

Eastside head coach Leah Carlisle provided the leadership needed to give the team something they have never done before -- send both squads to the state together. For her effort and dedication Carlisle was named the Citizen Cross Country Coach of the Year.

Dye, a senior from Salem, ran her first event at the Aubrae Gunderson Invite in 23 minutes, 47 seconds where she finished 20th overall. She was able to best her time until she got her personal best in the Region 8-AAAA championship with a time of 21:36 which was good enough for 12th place.

The next two runners on the first team, both from Heritage, Simone Worthy and Emily Taylor, had their share of top 20 finishes.

Worthy, a senior, had three top-10 finishes getting runner-up at NewRock (23:06), a fourth place at the Loganville Quad Meet (22:39) and eighth place at the Jag Invitational (24:06) in the first meet of the season. Her best time of 22:11 came in the Winder-Barrow Invitational where she came in 16th place.

Starting the season by running the Berry College Clara Bowl Invitational in 221st place with a time of 23:29, Taylor improved her time which was culminated in the Region 8-AAAA championship where she had a personal best time of 22:13 for 13th place. Her top-10 finishes came in the NewRock meet (23:38 -- fifth) and in the Loganville Quad Meet (23:07 -- sixth).

Eastside freshman Rhodelle Lewis made her mark in the first race of the season where she ran the Jag Invitational No. 1 in 23:43 taking the fourth spot. She turned up the heat in her next meet, at the NEGA Championships, where she set her personal record with a time of 22:03 where she placed 13th. She had two top-10 finishes in the NewRock (fourth with a time of 23:30) and in the Sandy Creek Mid-Week Classic (seventh with a time of 22:35). Lewis completed her first Region 4-AAA meet in 11th place in 23:15 before possibly feeling the pressure in the Class AAA state meet where she ran it in 24:44 coming in 146.

Giving Lewis guidance were fellow Eastside runners Naomi Denby and Blakely Smith, both seniors. Denby won NewRock running the course in 22:35 and had a sixth place finish in the Region 4-AAA Championship with a time of 21:51. Denby came in fourth in the Sandy Creek Mid-Week Classic (22:10) with running below the 23 minute mark in the Rock Ranch Invitational (22:17).

Smith waited until the end of the season before peaking her performance. She finished the Region 4-AAA Championship with a new personal record of 23:59 where she came in 15th. The following meet, at the Class AAA state meet, Smith was two seconds off her mark coming in 132nd overall with a time of 24:02. Her best finish came at NewRock where she came in sixth place with a time of 24:38.

Concluding the first-team is Heritage's Ally Silvery. In her first meet at the Jag Invitational No. 1, Silvery ran it in 24:25 and finished in the top-10 coming in ninth. Her other top-10 finish came at NewRock where was seventh overall with a time of 24:55. Her best time was set at the Winder-Barrow Invitational where she set the time in 23:33.

Making the second were Heritage's Sophie Moll and Lena Killingsworth, Newton's Brittany Banks and LaRobin Spencer, Salem's, Jordan Marshall, Alcovy's Elizabeth Smith and Eastside's Melissa Howard.

Earning honorable mention were Newton's Maiya Newton, Eastside's Sarah Gaddis, Alcovy's Heather Wilson and Heritage's Makayla Nolden.